Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Wow - is today really the last day of 2011?!

It's been a busy year

  • 120 posts
  • 831 comments (thank you so much for them, it really warmed my heart to re-read some of these)
  • 10 challenges/hops/parties
  • 1 broken bone
  • 2 new dogs
  • 2 loved ones lost
  • 4000 miles put on my car between June and October (it should be noted here that I don't commute, and I work from home!)
  • 2 amazing bead stash wins
  • 1 bead competition first prize
  • 3 Artbeads design partner pieces created
  • 8 times I mention on my blog, how happy I am that it's Friday
  • 3 Beading Babes project pieces created

At the beginning of the year, I imposed a challenge to myself to not buy any beads the whole year! Having realized that I was spending on beads rather frivolously, and having a look at my financial situation, I decided it would be a great money saving venture, not to mention a great challenge to be forced to “use what I have”. That being said, it wasn't as if it was a huge hardship to go without purchasing new beads for a year, I've been beading for over 15 years now, so you can imaging the stash size when in the past I've given myself free reign to purchase beads at will!

And it isn't as though I didn't get any new beads this year.....back in May I won a contest at my local bead shop and won a $75 gift certificate. For Mother's Day I received a Michaels gift card.

 On my birthday there were two crisp $20 bills with instructions to be spent on beads at the store of my choice.
I participated in two Bead Soup Blog Parties in which I received two gorgeous packages of beads. And just a few weeks ago I was the very lucky recipient of an amazing bead stash – that win is still blowing my mind!!!

So WOW! I'm amazed at how many new beads came into my world this year when I was worried about how hard it would be to not buy any beads.

I did have one slip up when I was working on the first Beading Babes project and noticed I had some sort of aversion to 6mm beads. So I bought some 6mm crystal to make the bracelet!  But to my defense, I found the crystals I "needed" in the $1 bin at Walmart.

So all in all it was a huge success. This challenge really pushed me creatively when I didn't have the freedom to go get whatever I needed any time I started a project.

Now as 2012 is upon me, I need to decide on my bead purchasing plans! I will definitely be attending the 2012 Winter Bead Show put on by the Baltimore Bead Society next weekend. Tomorrow I'll be going to Bead Soup for the Flocking Together event (where we will be making squares for the Bead-It-Forward Quilt project.)  And I definitely plan to treat myself with some beads on both occasions.  This year I hope to approach my bead buying with a defined budget for so called needs, and for beads I simply want!  
And now, for a little something from the 'warm your heart' files (at least in my opinion, ha!) my son loves to play with pipe cleaners make little sculptures (he does this with aluminum foil too) and so I pick up packages of them periodically.  Sometimes single colored, sometimes in multi-colored.

Earlier this week, as I was pounding away at my keyboard, working at my desk, Jackson came down from his room and said, I made something for you.... and then he handed me this!

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year filled with pink-pipe-cleaner-LOVE!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!!

Just a quick post to wish a happy holiday weekend to all!

Things are finally calming down in my neck of the woods.  I picked up a few tutorials this week (Merry Christmas to me!) which I plan to tackle next week.

This year I made 5 of the Looking Glass pendants from the pattern that Marcie so generously shared back in September. 

Marcie is right - for about an hour and under $10, you can make some pretty awesome, beautiful, and unique, hand made gifts.  I like the colors on the above pendant so much, I made two in that color combo! Thanks for sharing this one Marcie!

Tonight I will finish up a few more beaded pieces as gifts, and then tomorrow night we'll host my stepdaughters. Then on Christmas we will have my mom, one of my clients and one of my neighbors!  I'm really looking forward to all the company and good cheer!!!

Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

"It's the Most Wonderful Time...of the Year!"

When I tell the story of what led me to leave the restaurant industry, I tell a story about what it was like that last holiday season of being the director of sales, for a restaurant group that had four popular restaurants in DC.  I was working 70-80 hours a week, hiring babysitters I barely knew, pulling dirty clothes out of the hamper to send my kindergartener to school in.  All the while I was a single mom, and both myself and my son were so stressed out by my hectic schedule, we were in tears just about every night in the month of December.  It was somewhere around the 19th, I decided - I simply couldn't do it anymore.  I gave notice two months later, and finally (sort of ) left the industry three months after that!

That was five years ago, and I slowly grew out of being accustomed to the madness of holidays!  This year however, was a bit chaotic.

A few days after Thanksgiving, my colleague and I got the green light, to produce a farmers market in one of the most desolate areas of D.C.
They (the city of Washington DC) wanted us (Kelly & I), to do two of them in December!  Yikes!  Needless to say, it was crazy getting this ready.  We did a little bit of work ahead of time, but didn't want to do to much because the contract wasn't signed....and then was signed and we had to make it happen 10 and 17 days later!!!

Suddenly I felt like I was going back in time and right back into the madness of December!!!  But thankfully, I was able to work from home, which means, laundry still gets done...dinner, well, not all the time (I have ordered a bit of take out in the last three weeks!), but at least I get to eat with my family.

And both days went great.  Frankly - this is one of those projects that you work on and feel pretty good having done it.

Part of the concept was to make it feel like a community I sent out an invitation to every school in the ward (about 30) to have their chorus or band perform, and only one responded....and THEY WERE GREAT!

This was a local elementary school - how FABULOUSLY IN SYNC are these two in the front!?!

I can't lie - these kids were the highlight of my day. could argue that the next part of this story would definitely be the bead-y highlight of my day!!! 

We also had chef demonstrations at the market.
Her cauliflower soup was divine.....

But later on....after all the photo ops I was thanking our wonderful chef for participating in this event, she stopped the conversation, and reached over to my ear and said "ooooooooooooooh these are soooooooooo cute!"
(I made these to go with my Bead Soup Blog Party piece!)

And my two colleauges both piped in "Amy made them! She makes beaded jewelry!"  And then the chef said - "I love wearing earrings" and I said, "well I will hook you up!" And she said, "if you do, I'll wear them on my show!"  And then.....we worked out the details of where I should send them! 

Okay - so maybe that was the highlight of my day.... :) 

So I am UBER excited about this opportunity. Really!?! My earrings on a major television network!? I cannot wait to get started on this once I'm finished with my Christmas presents!!!

I finished a few pieces over the weekend and only have about 4 more to go this week!
A beautiful bead from BeadsByEarthTones!

I forget how much I enjoy stringing sometimes! 

Now my main focus is to get my packages ready to ship to Massachusetts.  I was freaking out last week that I may not get them there on time....but now I'm feeling very peaceful and if they get there before Christmas that will be great, but if not they will get there a day or two after - and that will be okay too! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Inspiration IS Everywhere!

I am a LUCKY girl!  After taking part in Erin's 2nd Annual Challenge of Color Hop , I was fortunate to have my name drawn to win this AMAZING bead stash!  Perfectly in theme with the challenge, Erin sent me a little something from each of the colors we had to select from!  I'm stunned by the generosity of this prize. So many amazing artists contributed to the stash! I think a personal challenge is in order to work my way through these gorgeous beads and pendants! (sorry for the excessive use of exclamation points - but I'm so excited!!!)  A HUGE THANK YOU to Erin Prais-Hintz for this great opportunity and for arranging this great stash!

My package arrived in this sweetly ribboned box....what I noticed right away that the box was very heavy!

 Imagine my delight when I pulled ALL THESE beauties out of the box. 

Something from Jeannie Dukic:

An assortment of glass beads and crystal elements:
How delicious is this pendant?!
A truly UNIQUE pendant from Gaea - I cannot wait to play around with this one:
Some glass beads and an enamel ceramic bead from Sally Russick:
A little piece of sunshine from Sally, Birgitta Lejonklon and Julsbead!
In love with this ceramic hear by Round Rabbit:
Gorgeous gray stones:
Lava beads!?  I didn't even know - these are so cool:
Neatly neutral beige beads:

My gosh - rhodocrosite is one of my favorite stones:
This adorable key holes by Marsha Neal were the first thing I pulled out of the box and I adore them, there is some green silk cord in there - perhaps it's time for me to step outside my comfort zone and try some fiber with my beadwork....
This red combination by EB Bead & Metalwork is stunning.  I don't make a lot of jewelry in red, but I can already think of some wonderful beads in my own stash that are going to go wonderfully with this:
Orange - it is one of my favorite colors and these are like sherbert:
This fabulous and final pendant, made by Marsha Neal, was one of the last things I pulled out of my box.  The fact that I got the word "focus" is actually quite meaningful to me.  I've been having a lot of trouble with FOCUS lately.  Now - I am not complaining - but my 'real job' work load has been completely out of control busy!  Just when one project ends I get three more!  I am truly counting my lucky stars.  It was a challenge at first, becoming a private contractor as a marketing and project manager.  But now that I've spent the last two years working out of my home office, business is booming.  My problem is that there is SO much going on - and such a variety of clients and projects (A food & wine festival, two farmers markets, two restaurants, a shopping center, a pet care company, a writer's workshop, a grassroots political organization and more coming out of the woodwork each day...), that I truly have a hard time focusing and prioritizing.  I sometimes stare at my piles of paperwork...or my email inbox and freeze.  Lately I feel like I am constantly telling myself "FOCUS".  I have to-do lists with little notes to myself like "Do it" or "this won't take too long" hahah!    So when I saw this wonderful pendant, I felt like the universe was speaking to me!  (It was probably saying - put the beads away and get back to work!!!)

Once again I have to say thank you so much to Erin of Treasures Found::Inspiration is Everywhere. 

Blogging was on my list of tasks for today!  So now I can check that off!!!  (And hopefully check a lot more off so I can sneak away to the bead room tonight!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy Friday!

As you may know if you read my blog, some of the projects I take on are for event planning/management and marketing.  Tomorrow I have a new event, the first day of another farmer's I am a wee bit stressed out! First contract with the city (Washington, DC), so that is adding to the pressure.  And also - not so thrilled that there is a high of 40 degrees tomorrow and I'll be outside from 7:30-3:00!!!!

However, in spite of the big event happening tomorrow, I've shockingly been able to squeeze in a little beading!

Somewhat inspired by so many who picked gray in Erin's Paint the World with Your Palette: 2nd Annual Challenge of Color Blog Hop, and the fact that I had a meeting on Wednesday and needed something to wear with an outfit with a lot of gray....I made this piece:
I mostly am happy with how it came out, however I feel like the medallion is too much dark gray.   But as it stood, I was out of the lighter gray delicas!  So c'est la vie! I could only work with what I had!!

I've also been working on this embroidered piece....I'm enjoying the colors, but I think I may have crowded the focal stone with the first round... hmmm...any ideas on how to remedy that?

Wish me luck tomorrow!  Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Help Colin Get His Boys Back!

I know Colin from many years back when he dated my friend and roommate.  I spent plenty of time with him, including several road trips from DC - Boston and back!   Whenever I hear stories about kidnapped children my heart breaks, but it is especially hard to hear about it, when you know one of the parents.  Here is what Colin posted on his page today "Help Bring Noor and Ramsay Home":
"Hi all, here is an FBI public service announcement asking for your help to track down Mirvat el Nady. This is the same type of PSA which led to the arrest of Whitey Bulger. This shows the FBI has not forgotten Noor and Ramsay, and is continuing their move forward. The PSA is being translated to French and Arabic, and circulated globally. Please post, Tweet and forward to your communities so we can help the FBI generate as much awareness as possible. Thank you all, on behalf of myself, Noor and Ramsay."
Please listen and pass long this podcast!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beading Babes Project #2 Reveal

It's time for the second installment of Beading Babes to reveal their project(s)!  This time around we had to choose from (or do both): Carole Ohl's "Earthly Hues" or Hatsumi Oshitani's "Sleek In Silver".  I was able to finish up "Sleek in Silver" so quickly - that I decided to both!

Here is my Sleek in Silver piece:

This pattern was really easy to follow and it worked up really quickly.  I have always been a fan of St. Petersburg stitch and this is a modified version of that.  I didn't have any briolettes, so I used top drilled swarovski crystals that I had in my stash.  All I had were clear ones and they are so hard to photograph!

I do want to comment on the tila beads.  While I VERY much liked the way the 'snap together and the tile look they create, I wasn't incredibly impressed with the quality of each bead.  They felt brittle, and the finish on them - mine were a/b finish - was quite poor.  I would be willing to try another finish - maybe opaque, or matte finish, but I didn't like these translucent ones I worked with. 

The "Earthly Hues" pattern worked up quite nicely and quickly too!  I just learned and started loving herringbone stitch this year and using these large beads makes a rope really fast!  On the flip side, the size 6 beads felt a little clumsy with herringbone and I don't like they way you can see the thread so easily in the hollow of the bead.

 I knew when I started, I wouldn't have enough of either 6's or cubes, but when I did as many as I could and finished the necklace with a size 11 herringbone rope.  I like the pendant, however, I couldn't figure out how to get the tow top cubes to sit correctly for the bail - eventually I improvised but I didn't find the directions especially clear at that part. 

All in all though I really enjoyed doing both of these pieces and I'm sure I will be revisiting these patterns for future use!  Thank you to Karen who is the ringleader of the Beading Babes group!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday free patterns!

Hello all!  Wow - it was SO fun taking part in Erin of Treasure's Found Paint the World with Your Palette: 2nd Annual Challenge of Color Blog Hop!  I had a blast doing my piece, but I can honestly say it was even more fun going from blog to blog and seeing everyone else's creations.

I was giddy with anticipation from the time I saw each palette to the time I scrolled down to the creation.  All the creativity and originality was astounding!  I loved seeing so much use of art beads as focals.  And I saw overwhelmingly, many artists stating that for this challenge they were only going to use what they had in their stash....a challenge I gave myself for the year of 2011 (more on that in a few weeks as I end this personal challenge!)

I can't wait to see everyone's reveal for the second installment of the Beading Babes project! Check back on Sunday for that!

And finally - just for fun, here are some more patterns (free to use for the Bead It Forward quilt project!).  I thought I'd try out some light-hearted birds this time around!

Happy Friday!